Family remembers 19-year-old Philip Mathews, inspiration behind Love Without Reason
Philip Mathews, the young Chattanoogan inspiration behind the nonprofit Love Without Reason, died Tuesday after two weeks in the hospital. He was 19-years-old. Philip was born with several birth defects, but he never let that stop him from achieving what he wanted.
His mother Susan Mathews says that now they have to live Philip's mantra, "If Philip could make it, you could make it to."
She says Philip's challenges started in the womb. In a video from 11 months ago, Philip shared part of his story.
"I had a missing stomach, he added that I had many holes in my heart, he also said that I had a cleft lip, and a cleft palate, there's no chance I would be born alive," said Philip.
But his parents Susan and Santhosh Mathews pushed through. Philip was born facing a mountain of challenges.
"They scanned his brain and they said he doesn't have an eye or an ear on the right side and his jaw is underdeveloped," said Susan. "He's missing the center part of his brain."
They were told Philip was going to have delays, but he overcame every single obstacle put in his way. Philip graduated from the McCallie School in May 2019.
"He would be on the campus of school doing everything he wanted to do and he loved every minute of it," said Susan.
She says a doctor wouldn't clear Philip to play football, his favorite sport. He still managed to find his way onto the field.
"Philip went up to Coach Potter at McCallie and he said, 'Would you need an assistant? I would just walk on the sidelines,'" said Susan.
He was a team manager for all four years of high school.
His perseverance didn't stop him from getting on the football field. Love Without Reason is the Mathews' family organization. They travel the world doing medical missions to help children that need craniofacial surgeries, to correct cleft palates, and fight human trafficking.
Philip even got the opportunity to speak in front of 4,000 girls and share his story, in the hopes of inspiring others.
"So he shared a little brief thing about his story and he told them, I just want you to remember one thing, that if Philip could make it then you can make it too," said Susan. "His underlying message was don't give up, you know the world will tell you, you can't make it, but you can, you can do all things through Christ."
Two weeks ago, Philip's health took a turn for the worse, he underwent his 25th surgery to fix a stomach issue.
"And then he told us last Tuesday, and he goes, "Mom, 25 surgeries is enough,'" said Susan. "We had realized that he had warned us before, he told us that he was tired, and that this was enough and so he was ready to pass on."
Philip died on October 22nd, but Susan knows that they will be reunited in heaven one day, and that Philip is no longer in pain.
"I know right now that Philip has two eyes, he's got two ears, his jaw and his face are beautiful, his spine is straight," said Susan.
They have to keep working.
"And I think he's left us a challenge that we have to pick up," said Susan. "His words were that, 'I want to work until the world is cleft free, I want to keep working until there are no more children that are sold into slavery, and I want to do it.' So the burden is on us, I will continue to fight, and we will continue Love Without Reason."
Services for Philip will take place Friday at Redemption Point Church located at 3831 Ooltewah Ringgold Rd. in Ooltewah.
Visitation will take place from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and a service will follow until 8:30 p.m. There will also be a "home going" service from 9:30 am until 11:30 am on Saturday at the church.